|It seems that this blog is not the sole user|
of the term Katpat: see KatPatArt, here
Thank you! After the IPKat made his plea for people posting comments to do so in a manner that was not abusive of the bloggers or of other readers who have posted comments, we are pleased to see that the general standard of comments posted has risen: there is more engagement in serious IP debate and less slinging of unsavoury mud by people who choose shoot their generally unpleasant and irrelevant barbs while wearing the cowardly garb of anonymity (though some still occasionally slips through). There is still a reader or two who hasn't quite got the hang of this, and this blog is even now occasionally treated to snide comments and assertions that it is suppressing freedom of speech and controlling debate [that's what the whole point of a moderated weblog is, notes Merpel]. But that's their misfortune. If anyone wants to participate in debate over items posted on this blog, all he or she has to do -- whether anonymously or not -- is address the points of debate and leave out the spiteful stuff; if they want to be gratuitously spiteful and unpleasant, they need only to set up their own weblog in order to do so.
Elementary my dear Watson
|Rush hour, Vanuatu ...|
news of an exciting bit of patent infringement litigation. A 54-year-old inventor [Merpel's not sure what the relevance of the age is. Now, a 54-year-old patent, that would be news!], Mr Yiap Hang Boon, is suing the local Housing and Development Board (HDB) for infringing his patent for a clothes-drying rack. The statutory board rejects the claim, seeking revocation in return. This case is ongoing; more news may be forthcoming. A katpat goes to our informant, modestly known to us only by the name Daniel.
The following text, by Michael Carroll (Professor of Law and Director, Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property, American University Washington College of Law), was received by this Kat from katfriend and distinguished academic Professor Estelle Derclaye:
This Kat does not seek to condone any copyright infringement and he believes that there do exist factual circumstances that may justify a custodial sentence -- but certainly not here. On this very brief appraisal of the facts it seems entirely inappropriate that anyone who has done what Diego Gomez has done should face the prospect of a prison sentence, and equally inappropriate that the prosecutor's office should be taking such dramatic and apparently draconian measures to commit public resources to a case such as this. Prosecutions like this do nothing to win respect for the notion of copyright among the public at large, and do a great disservice to those of us who seek better and more effective copyright protection. It's time to drop this charge."I write to bring your attention to a very troubling copyright case in Colombia and to ask for your help in drawing this case to the attention of any journalists in the US that might have an interest in covering the story. Diego Gomez is a biologist who posted another scientist's master's thesis on Scribd because he found the thesis so useful to his research. This is a common means of sharing research in resource-strapped countries. More details here.
The author of the thesis objected, the thesis was taken down, but the author then filed a criminal complaint with the prosecutor's office. The prosecutor had discretion about whether to proceed, and he chose to do so. Diego now faces a possible sentence of up to 8 years in prison if found guilty. The reason the potential sentence is so long is that Colombia amended its copyright law in 2006 to add anti-circumvention provisions pursuant to its obligations under the US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. Since the US wanted such provisions to provide effective deterrence, Colombian legislators responded by increasing the general criminal penalties for copyright infringement.
His hearing is on September 2nd, and there are some defenses that can and will be raised. But, this case could take a few years to be resolved. I've spoken with Carolina Botero at the Karisma Foundation, which is helping with the case. My understanding is that the case would cease if the author were to withdraw the complaint or if the prosecutor were to rethink the wisdom of pursuing such a prosecution. Press about this case in the US might help that latter option to be realized. There are some science journalists writing about this, but some mainstream coverage would also be very helpful.
As you might imagine, the pressure of this case on Diego and his family is quite intense. If you also find this case troubling, please either blog about it yourself or draw some press attention to it.